Event of the Elephant
Fatwa No: 85617

  • Fatwa Date:23-2-2003 - Thul-Hijjah 22, 1423
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Question

What happened during the event of Al-Fil (the elephant)?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

This incident happened in the very year of the birth of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) i.e. about 571 C.E. The story is mentioned in the Chapter 105 of the Quran. Yemen was under the rule of the Abyssinians and Abrahah ibn As-Sabah was their viceroy in Yemen. Abrahah found people preparing to visit Makkah (may Allaah The Almighty honor it) at the appointed season. So, he decided to build a church in San'aa (the capital of Yemen) and he sent a letter to Negus (the ruler of Abyssinia) informing him that he was building a great Church to draw the people's attention to it and get them to drop their intention of performing pilgrimage to the Ka'bah.

An Arab man of the tribe of Kinanah learnt about his plan. Thereupon, he entered the Church and spoiled it with feces. When Abrahah asked, "Who did that?" it was said, "A man from the people of Al-Ka'bah. Abrahah took an oath that he would destroy the Ka'bah, and he informed Negus and asked him to send him (Abrahah) his elephant, which was called Mahmood, and was particularly big and strong. Negus agreed to do so and Abrahah proceeded to invade Makkah with a large army and some elephants.

The Arabs regarded that army as great and believed that it was their duty to fight it. Thus, various Arab tribes fought Abrahah, but he defeated them all, one by one. Then, Abrahah sent a man to tell Abdul Muttalib, the chief of Makkah and the grandfather of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) that they had come to destroy the Ka'bah. Abdul Muttalib said, "We will leave him and his concern. This is the House of Allaah and His friend Ibraaheem. If He protects it, it is His House and sacred place." Then, he went to Abrahah and he (Abdul Muttalib) was a handsome and well-built man. Abrahah admired and honored him. Abdul Muttalib asked Abrahah to give back the 200 camels that Abrahah's army had taken from him. Abrahah told his interpreter to tell Abdul Muttalib that he had admired him until that moment, but did not do so any longer because was more concerned about the camels than the house of his fathers, their honor and glory. Abdul Muttalib replied, "I am the owner of the camels and the Ka'bah has its Lord who will protect it." Abrahah said, "He cannot prevent me from destroying it." Abdul Muttalib said, "Do as you please."

At this, Abrahah ordered his army to give back the camels to Abdul Muttalib, who informed his tribe Quraysh of the matter and ordered them to take refuge in the mountains and valleys.  Abdul Muttalib went to the House (Al-Ka'bah) and prayed saying, "O Allaah! You alone we ask for help and protection; the real enemy is the one who shows enmity to You and Your House; protect it." As Abrahah prepared his army to enter the House, some Arabs took the ear of the elephant and said, "O Mahmood, kneel down, you are in the sacred territory of Allaah,'' and the elephant did so. The others did their best to make it get up again but in vain. When they directed it to Yemen, Syria or the East it began to walk but it refused to go towards the House.

Then, Allaah The Almighty sent birds from the direction of the sea; each bird had three small stones, two in its legs and one in its beak. The birds covered the area above the army and then dropped the stones. People fled and the soldiers were decimated by the power of Allaah The Almighty. As for Abrahah, he went back to Yemen and lost his limbs one by one on his way until became feeble like a young bird. He died after his chest was afflicted in the same manner. This story is mentioned in the Holy Quran, Chapter 105 that states (what means): {Have you (O Muhammad) not seen how your Lord dealt with the Owners of the Elephant? [The elephant army which came from Yemen under the command of Abrahah Al-Ashram intending to destroy the Ka'bah at Makkah]. Did He not make their plot go astray? And sent against them birds, in flocks, Striking them with stones of Sijjeel. And made them like an empty field of stalks (of which the corn has been eaten up by cattle).}[Quran 105:1-5]

We seek Allaah's help and protection from His wrath and revenge, and we ask Him to make us entitled to receive His mercy and pardon.

Allaah Knows best.

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